I don't give myself enough credit for the effort that I put into trying to live a well managed bipolar life. A lot of people I talk to don't give themselves enough either. The hand that we have been dealt in life isn't perfect but life sucks and it sucks for everyone. I think we spend a lot of time unknowingly discrediting ourselves. I have met very few bipolar individuals that feel as if life owes them something for inflicting this disorder upon them. In fact, I find the exact opposite- most people don't want to talk about what's wrong or apologize profusely when they try to. Their words are riddled with doubt and they're troubled with feelings of being a burden if they do speak about it. I'm guilty of it myself.
That way of viewing ourselves has to stop.
Compared to the rest of the world my life is pretty damn good. I tend to lose sight of my daily management needs because comparably my "needs" often look selfish. The ability to function is held together by the little daily details. Skipping out on any of them is the first step to a harsh decline in long term management. Stupid little first world tasks that most people wouldn't think were a part of a successful bipolar day.
I read stories of people that are suffering from 3rd world levels of poverty, starvation, unfathomable abuse, disease, or simply lacking basic human needs. These horrors make my necessities and routines seem so insignificant. When I compare myself to the lives of everyone else who is suffering from things beyond my control I start to slip on my small daily upkeep- I don't place as much value on them. I have to make my bed and clean my room to center myself each morning but as I begrudgingly send my comforter flying over my queen size bed I'll start thinking of people that don't have beds. I'm mildly pissed off because if I don't put the pillows up the way I like them the visual will annoy me and throw my mood just slightly off for that day which opens up the door for other laziness and eventually an episode. As I'm grumbling about all of this to myself I will suddenly think of children who have to sleep on dirt floors with little protection against the elements. I'll have images of mattresses that are old, stained, and too small. These kinds of thoughts are pretty regular for me. Other times I'll get mildly upset because I haven't been out to ride in a week for so (something that GREATLY stabilizes my moods) and then I'll start thinking about people that don't have legs. Here I am, upset I can't hop on a self propelled machine that costs more than most people would consider spending on a decent used car, while there are families that don't know if they can afford to keep a roof over their head for another month. My mind loves to torture me- as much as it possibly can.
Situations like this happen all the time. Any frustration that I have, no matter how big or small, my mind will create a scenario to combat it with and make me feel guilty. It keeps me from becoming completely self absorbed but it would be nice to be reminded instead of bombarded.
I despise cooking. Hate it. Food is fuel, I don't really care to think of it beyond anything but that. I enjoy food but if I'm making it chances are it's purely for performance and I'm complaining through the entire process. I get about 80% of my meals from out side of home but there is a fresh hot/salad bar at our local health food market so most of the time I'm there or other healthy food on the go options (Lamplighter!). I financially sacrifice a lot of other things just so I don't have to prepare food at home. I like it this way- that's how much I hate cooking. I'm very much a spoiled brat in this sense but I have accepted it. Some day's when I'm dragging my feet because I have to drive or ride to get food and I wish it would just come to me, I start thinking about families that struggle to feed their children or individuals that have had a long term struggle to feed themselves. There were some times growing up we didn't have any money (we never had money but some times were worse than others), we had very little to eat and I remember the impact those years had on my family and me. I dwell on how that must feel for other people especially since I've been through it. No one should have to deal with that kind of want and I think about that a lot. Every time I'm bitching because I have to drive my car or ride my bike to the store to get my healthy gluten free foods, I am brought back to those times growing up and think about the people in even worse situations.
I have first world problems. As an adult I am lucky enough to say I have more than enough of the basic needs and a lot of extra (I'm using my own personal laptop to type this, it's an absolute piece of shit but I have one). I have a car, 2 road bikes, plenty of art supplies, nice clothes, and so much more to be grateful for. My life isn't care free and I have a lot to deal with outside of living with this disorder but I am grateful for my position in life. I even feel that my bipolar management is a first world problem- and holy crap am I grateful that my circumstances allow me to focus my energy on that. In the great big picture that is human life my struggles aren't anywhere close to as bad as it can get and the amount of people who have it worse than I do is very humbling and I never forget that (my brain will make sure every time I am inconvenienced that I'm reminded about the AIDS babies suffering in Africa).
Even hearing other people speak about what they have been through humbles me to the point where I can lose my sense of priority. If someone crashes their car and totals it I empathize with them greatly and feel bad they have to go through that process (unless you were drinking or doing something stupid, then I have no sympathy for you). I have never once looked at anyone else and thought "my life is so much harder than yours." But I'm quick to look at others and tell myself "you're life isn't that hard."
I never pity myself but I'm quick to discredit the hurdles that my particular existence has put into place. I convince myself that my problems are superficial and therefor are a result of selfishness. A bipolar life isn't easy and I've caught myself slipping up on my responsibilities because I keep playing the comparison game. Even talking about this makes me feel kind of bad but I can't sit and cry about every problem that human kind must face that is completely out of my immediate control while I ignore my own.
Comparison is selling myself short and reinforcing behavior that isn't conducive to being happy or healthy.
I can be an empathetic person without sacrificing my needs.